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Old 06-15-2009, 02:09 PM   #1
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1984 31' International
Flint , Michigan
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Your thoughts

Ok all you guru's, I need your opinion. After sitting idle for the last 8 years we decided to put our AS back on the road. After packing whell bearings and such I hooked everthing up to our 08 3/4 ton van and took her for a test spin. Everything felt right....NO issues whatsoever....the question is this. I had to raise the ball up on the hitch to get it somewhat close to where it needed to be...van height UNloaded 24 1/2" at the top of the bumper...trailer hooked up and chains on the second link....van squats 3/4 of an inch to a height of 23 1/2 inches...acceptable or not?

Thanks for the input...enclosed is a picture or two....the trailer was dead level form any spot I could get a level on....the hub cap is off for a reason

Dan
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Old 06-15-2009, 02:29 PM   #2
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Sorry - don't have any advice but when I saw your pics I thought ---Wow, Flint Michigan must be real pretty! All that green, all that blue. Postcard pic (well, except for the missing hubcap).
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Old 06-15-2009, 02:31 PM   #3
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Weight Distribution Hitch

Grandpapa
I really didn't understand how the thing worked until I went to a truck scale and played with it. Here in the US there are CAT scales (Certified Automated Tare Weight Scales). They charge 10.00 for the first pass over the scales and 1.00 for each additional pass for the next 24 hours.
Anyway,
Here is a post I did about setting up my dual cam Reese.

Setup
The best way to set up the Airstream is with scales.
You need to go to a CAT Scale and expect to spend some time.
First you must adjust the ball height to make the weight on both axles the same (yes weigh each axle seperately). Make a reference mark on the tongue (Take a piece of masking tape, stick it on the tongue if you donít want to mark on the tongue with the magic marker and put a line on it parallel with the ground. When the weight on both axles are the same plus or minus 100lbs measure the distance from this line you made to the ground while on the scales).

This is what your tongue height must always be when you are on a flat level surface.


Next adjust the spring bars/trunion bars until the weight on the front axle and rear axle of the tow vehicle is the same with the tongue height noted before.
Then tweak the number of links under tension, angle of the ball mount and ball mount position on the drawbar until the weight on all four axles is within 100 pounds of each other AND the line on the masking tape is at the distance from the ground is the same as the tongue height as measured above.
The change in overall handeling is dramatic.


Remember:
1. Equal weight on the two trailer axles is the first and most important consideration reguardless of appearance. There is no equalizer link between the front and rear axle so the ball height is what determines the load on each axle. It must be the reference height determined above when finished no matter how many times you have readjust the angle of the ball mount/position of the ball mount on the shank.
2. Equal weight on all four axles is the best setup for braking and stability. This may not be attainable so get as close as possible.
Put your heavist toys in front of the rear axle of the pickup truck (between the front and rear axle).
3. The truck and trailer might be a little off level when the weights are right. This is caused by the different ACTUAL load capacity of the old axles on your trailer (after several years they get tired, mine are).
4. Use the lightest spring bars you can get away with. There should be 1 to 2 inches deflection from rest (on the spring bars) to be best to attain the reference mark height and equal weight on all axles. My tongue weight is 850 lbs and I use 750 lb bars. These spring bars provide a flexable link between the truck and the trailer. I learned years ago that unless you provide a flex point between the trailer and the truck, if not, the trailer or the truck will find one on its own and I guarantee you will not like it.
Beginner
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Old 06-15-2009, 03:18 PM   #4
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Things look pretty good but let me ask a question. You measured the drop at the rear axle of the truck but what was the drop at the front axle?

If the rear dropped 3/4 of an in. the front should have come down 3/8 to 1/2 in. If the front went up you have to make some changes.

While Beginners info is correct you should at least have it set close for over the road before you go to the scales.
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:10 PM   #5
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1984 31' International
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Gentleman.......I thank you kindly. It has been a bit (obviously) since we have been on the road...the information will make it much more pleasant.

Thanks again

Dan
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:42 PM   #6
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Beginner...I called the local CAT scale location and they said they could only weigh the AS and the Van together, from your explaination as long as I get everything within 100lbs it should be good to go...yes?

Thanks again

Dan
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:47 PM   #7
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Howie.....I did not measure the front....old guy moment. I will get that done on Tuesday and try to get up to the scales and se where I'm at.

Dan
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Old 06-15-2009, 08:58 PM   #8
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Dan,

I like your setup, I pull my 31'r with the same van (2006 Express 5.3 3:73) I bet it drives great hooked up?
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Old 06-16-2009, 04:30 AM   #9
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Dave

Up to this point we had always towed it with a Ford 1/2 ton van. I knew there would be a difference but not this much, it seems almost effortless.

Dan
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Old 06-16-2009, 07:30 AM   #10
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Grandpapa

When you get to the CAT scales you will probably see that there are three (3) concrete pads.
Each is an individual scale.
Go to this web page for an explanation of the system.
The CAT scale in Suffolk VA charged me $10.00 for the first pass and $1.00 for each subsequent pass. Not a bad deal.

http://www.catscale.com/howtoweigh.cfm

From the information given you can see how I weighed each axle.
1. First weight is the two trailer axles.
2. Position one axle on platform 3 and the second axle on the platform 2. The tow vehicle will be on the platform 1. Ignore the weight of the platform 1 on this pass. See "Position Two" on the web page listed above.
3. Tell the attendant to record the weight. When they say its ok pull off the scale, park and pay the attendant ($11.00 or so).
4. Go to your trailer and using the weights recorded on the receipt for platforms 2 and 3, you will know whether or not you have to raise or lower your tongue to make the loads on each of the trailer axles as equal as possible (put fewer links under tension=raise tongue: put more links under tension=lower tongue).
Remember, this first part is to establish the tongue height that places equal weight on each trailer axle.
5. Adjust the tongue up or down as necessary. Now reweigh the trailer axles on platforms 2 and 3. Weight the trailer, pull off, park and pay.
If the weights are right on the trailer axles (as close to 100 lbs as possible) pull to a non-busy out of the way part of the parking lot,make your reference line on the tongue of the trailer and measure the distance to ground (a yard stick works great for this and put the reference mark at an even inch on the yard stick).
The first part is done.
6. Now pull around again and put the front axle of the tow vehicle on platform 1 and the rear wheels of the tow vehicle on platform 2. Both axles of the trailer will probably be on platform 3. Weigh your rig, pull off, park, pay the attendant then the work begins. Ignore the weight on platform 3.
If the front axle of your tow vehicle is lighter than the rear axle, you need to place fewer links under tension, this throws more weight to the front of the van.
7. Re measure the reference mark on the tongue of the trailer. It MUST be at the same height as measured in step 5. (It is nice to check this reference mark on the same place in the parking lot to ensure repeatability). If it is not you must do what is necessary to make it the same. You have to disconnect the trailer to make the following adjustments. Your options are:
a. Reference mark too high: You must lower the hitch ball by rocking the ball mount back (tweak) or lowering the ball mount on the drawbar (adjustment).
b. Reference mark too low: You must raise the hitch ball by rocking the ball mount forward (tweak) or raising the ball mount on the drawbar.
Notice that you must have enough Trunion Bar deflection downward to properly load them.
Tighten every thing down, hook up the trailer including the trunion bars and if you have a dual cam straight line (old style) you must pull the trailer and tow vehicle forward in a straight line to have both truck and trailer aligned straight. Then loosen the four u bolts holding the dual cam devices on the tongue and allow then to center on the cams (this could be a loud noise as they slip home).
Re-verify the reference mark on the tongue of the trailer.
If the tongue height is right then reweigh the rig, if not make it right.
Repeat these steps as necessary to adjust the weight on the tow vehicle axles as necessary with the reference mark on the tongue of the trailer at its proper height.
This process took the better part of a Saturday afternoon but the change in handling and braking was dramatic.
Beginner
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Old 06-16-2009, 07:41 AM   #11
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Not positive on this, but you may need to look at the axles. After sitting 8 years and it's already a 1984 vintage, the axles may need to be replaced.

Other than that thought, looks like a nice setup.
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Old 06-16-2009, 07:59 AM   #12
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Axles

Mine are marginal (1984 Excella).
Next year.
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Old 06-16-2009, 09:43 AM   #13
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Id say those axles are shot ! Just kiddin. But after setting for eight yrs and not being moved it is very possible the rubber has solidified. But I cannot tell from the picture because the trailer is to far from the camera. It does appear that the rear is down just a little. With good axles the tongue height will change. I was using a 4" Blue OX drop to get the trailer level before I changed axles, but when I changed axles I did away with the drop,because I gained about 4" in rear height which changed the tongue height.
Glad to see ya out on the highway again,Come visit us at Milan on July 31 thru Aug 2nd I think it is,Detroit-Metro Rally.
Roger
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:52 AM   #14
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1984 31' International
Flint , Michigan
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I sure appreciate it guys...with a little luck I'll be on the scales by this weekend. Axle wise I'm getting good movement when the trailer is jacked up and it settles in nicely when in motion....doesn't appear to bottom out or anything of the likes, but it's something to look at.

Dan
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